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City Forum attracts leading figures from UK art and culture scene

Published: Friday, 27th May 2022

Leading figures in UK arts have today (Friday) spoken at an event to celebrate and strengthen the significance of culture in the future growth of Stoke-on-Trent.

Around 80 delegates from organisations including national and regional agencies, and public, private, voluntary and community sector partners from across the city have come together for the latest City Forum.

The event was led by Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown, and focused on:

  • The importance and uniqueness of Stoke-on-Trent’s heritage, and how it can help to define the city’s cultural identity and contribute to its future prosperity
  • How Stoke-on-Trent can improve links and build productive relationships with national cultural organisations
  • The city’s cultural strengths and how to maximise them.

The three keynote speakers at the event at Staffordshire University’s new multi-million pound Catalyst Building were:

  • Tristram Hunt, director of the Victoria and Albert Museum and former Stoke-on-Trent Central MP
  • Darren Henley, chief executive officer of Arts Council England
  • David Amigoni. Professor of Victorian Literature, University Lead for Keele Deal | Culture, & ArtsKeele at Keele University

Councillor Brown said: “This was the first City Forum to be held in person and it was wonderful to bring everyone together to share ideas, insights and inspire each other.

“We’ve always been really clear on the significance of culture to our city’s future, the momentum behind this was felt when we bid for, and made the final shortlist to become, the UK City of Culture 2021. That momentum was emphasised in the government’s Levelling Up White Paper in February, which recognises ‘building pride in place through culture’ – the title of our City Forum debate – as one of its 12 levelling up mission statements. Last month I spoke at a government select committee explaining to national leaders Stoke-on-Trent’s unique heritage and cultural offer and ambitions, and spoke frankly about how we as a city can be empowered to build on this in the face of challenging financial conditions.

“In the last few months we have secured £56m in Levelling Up funding– the biggest allocation for any city in the country. But for Levelling Up to deliver for our amazing city, we need to go beyond bricks and mortar and deliver less tangible assets such as creativity, inspiration, wellbeing and pride in place – characteristics which culture can directly influence.

“This forum shows how working together is key to achieving the ambitions in our Powering Up Stoke-on-Trent Prospectus that was launched in February 2021 and has been refreshed this month.

 “We have only scratched the surface of what is possible, and are committed to working in partnership to deliver for our city.”

The refreshed Powering Up Prospectus May 2022, can be viewed at www.stoke.gov.uk/poweringup.